70 delegates from Fiji, Palau and Vanuatu are in attendance at the first regional meeting on integrated border management in Nadi, Fiji. Photo: UNDP

Nadi, Fiji: A regional consultation was staged last week in Fiji, bringing together key border management officials, airports and seaports from Fiji, Palau and Vanuatu.  

The meeting, the first-of-its-kind discussed best-practices and lessons learned by the three Pacific nations throughout the COVID-19 period, while looking ahead to the future in terms of training and staffing needs, cross-border information sharing, risk mitigation, regional collaboration, and the use of technologies, should a future pandemic strike.

With support from the Government of Japan, the project – with a focus on integrated border management – aims to support the agencies in Fiji, Palau and Vanuatu to reinforce their capacities, capabilities and systems for effective and efficient move of travelers and cargo, and to strengthen the links for data and knowledge sharing, inter-agency and cross-regional cooperation.

Border management agencies will require significant investment in the coming years, investment which should be based on careful assessment of respective national legal frameworks, institutional capacities, human and ICT resources, risk management strategies and synergetic efforts that use an integrated border management approach. Importantly, border management agencies will reflect on key governance aspects which include strengthened integration and coordination structures, and increased accountability among agencies

Hon. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Speaker of the Fijian Parliament, opened the meeting and stressed the importance of a modernized approach to border management.

“As the globalization of business continues to develop and as the needs of our countries to help their small and medium-sized enterprises compete in the local, regional, and global economy steadily and gradually rise – national and regional policies such as integrating and modernizing border functions will become critical for growth and development,” he said.

Kenichiro Tanaka, Chargé d’affaires with the Embassy of Japan in Fiji, welcomed the regional collaboration and information sharing that would come from the meeting.

“Regional collaboration and knowledge sharing among participating border agencies is one of the key priorities of this project. I encourage all participants to please take this opportunity to learn, and more importantly to share with colleagues from Fiji, Vanuatu and Palau,” he said.

Levan Bouadze, Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji said that the meeting provided an opportunity to discuss how development assistance can aid both economic and legislative recovery and planning following the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“It is critical to build back better, more equitably and inclusively from the pandemic. Through this project, UNDP is leading the way in assisting Fiji, Palau and Vanuatu to develop policies and procedures for more efficient, seamless and paperless travel, and to seek for opportunities for harmonization of legislation and policy across our respective responsible agencies,” said Mr. Bouadze.

The Project for Strengthening Border Control Capacity is supported by the Government of Japan, with UNDP working alongside key partners, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

For further media enquiries please contact:

Rustam Pulatov, Project Manager, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. (P) +679 3312 500 – (E) rustam.pulatov@undp.org

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